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Friday, February 25, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she'd never met, a native of Guernsey, the British island once occupied by the Nazis. He'd come across her name on the flyleaf of a secondhand volume by Charles Lamb. Perhaps she could tell him where he might find more books by this author. As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, she is drawn into the world of this man and his friends, all members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a unique book club formed in a unique, spur-of-the-moment way: as an alibi to protect its members from arrest by the Germans. Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the Society's charming, deeply human members, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all. Through their letters she learns about their island, their taste in books, and the powerful, transformative impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds there will change her forever."

I really liked this book. I was wary at first because it is written in letter-style, which can be choppy and difficult to follow, but Ms. Shaffer and Ms. Barrows pulled it off very well. They write in a fun, light, happy tone, even though there are some hard things discussed. The war was hard on these people, and they talk of their sufferings, which is good for me to remember, but it is difficult to hear. I fell in love with these characters, just as Juliet did, and I just felt as if I were right there with her meeting them. It's fun to see how Juliet "grows up" as the book progresses, and how she begins to see things from a different light. This book is rich with life experiences: how to cope with difficult situations, how to adapt to what life brings you, and that the people in our lives are more important than any thing we may possess. I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It is a fun, easy read that teaches what matters most in life.

Rating: PG-13 (War-time experiences, death, minor language, and a gruesome explanation of what occurred in the concentration camps.)

Recommendation: High School and up. The deaths and experiences described in the concentration camps were really hard to read, and probably shouldn't be read by younger readers.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Napping House

The Napping House by Audrey Wood, Illustrated by Don Wood

I love this book! Kids love this book as well! The story is so cute. A Grandma is napping on a bed and then all sorts of things start to nap on top of her, including a dog and a mouse. Then a flea comes along and.....you'll have to read it to find out! The illustrations are amazing. I love the lighting in them because it gives such a sense of peace and rest. Then as the book goes on it gets lighter and lighter until....you'll have to read it to find out! It's fun for children because there are lots of ways to embellish it. It would be fun to predict what happens, to add your own animals and creatures to the mix, and to write your own version. It's predictable enough that even small children pick up the patterns and can help read, yet it also has a fun element of surprise. This is a must-have for every children's book collection. I definitely recommend it!

Rating: G (Completely clean!)

Recommendation: Great for all ages!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

(Summary taken from the inside book jacket) "'A Thousand Splendid Suns' is a breathtaking story set against the volatile events of Afghanistan's last thirty years--from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post-Taliban rebuilding--that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in intimate, human terms. It is a tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives--the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness--are inextricable from the history playing out around them."

Oh, where do I even start with this book? It's awful. Well, like "Kite Runner," the writing is amazing, but the events that unfold are awful. I wanted so much to just put it down and stay in my ignorance, but I couldn't. I could not put it down. The things that happen to these two women are beyond my imagination. If one or two of those things happened to me I think I would crawl into a little ball and disappear mentally, yet these women found some (albeit small) joy in each other and the children. I kept thinking that it couldn't get worse, and then it would. It was extremely disturbing at times. It took me awhile to read it because I'd have to put it down and walk away until I could regain my composure. I still have haunting images in my head. I just kept thinking over and over how blessed I am. I have a wonderful husband who treats me with love and respect. He also treats all of our children with love and respect. I have a college education. I may wear whatever I want and go anywhere I want to. I love listening to music and do it often. I worship in the church I want to. My children were born in a very clean hospital with anything that might be needed readily available. If I want a drink of water all I have to do is turn on a faucet. The list could go on and on. I am so blessed. I am so blessed.

This book is not for the faint of heart. It is VERY hard to read. There is violence, war, profanity, rape, torture, death. And why did I read it? It is very well written and it just draws you in. I felt as if I were reading Mr. Hosseini's diary. I love his writing, yet I despise it. Although it is awful, I am glad I read it. I'm glad to be reminded of my blessings, and I'm glad to be reminded that the world is not at peace. There are evil people out there who don't care about anything except themselves. It's a hard lesson to learn. I am so blessed. If you liked "Kite Runner" I would recommend this book. His writing is truly amazing, it is just extremely difficult to read because of all the events that occur. I would not recommend this book if any of the above mentioned things are too disturbing to you.

Rating: R (Remember this does not necessarily follow the movie ratings, it is just my way of saying that children and young adults should NOT read this book.) War, violence, "physical intimacy," rape, profanity, death, murder.

Recommendation: College and up. Maybe a really mature high school senior, but I would suggest mom or dad read it first to see. It was hard for me as an adult to take it all in and not be overwhelmed, and in fact, there were times that I did have to put it down and walk away because I was so disturbed.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Touch of the Master's Hand

The Touch of the Master's Hand by Myra Brooks Welch, Illustrated by Greg Newbold

The poem The Touch of the Master's Hand was written by Myra Brooks Welch in 1921. I have heard it before and have always enjoyed it. It is very touching and has such a good moral in it. It is great for teaching children not to judge others, for teaching them to find the good in everyone, including themselves, and for reminding them that people can change. This book was illustrated by Greg Newbold. He used the poem as  it appeared in 1936, and added his beautiful illustrations.

I love this book. Mr. Newbold did a fabulous job with the illustrations. I love the attention to detail and the old-time feel in each of the paintings. On the page when the violinist is playing the violin you can almost hear the beautiful melody coming off the page. The lighting and the placement of the bird and the village make you feel like you are there and can hear the music. The man at the end of the book looking up is filled with such hope and you feel like you want him to succeed. I will be reading this to my children many times in the upcoming weeks and years.

Rating: G (Completely clean!)

Recommendation: Great for all ages!

I definitely recommend this book to everyone. It is a good, clean, uplifting book that teaches a wonderful lesson and is beautifully done.
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cowardly Clyde

Cowardly Clyde by Bill Peet

I love this book! I love Bill Peet's books, and this is one of my favorite. I love that I can relate to Clyde. He is a very nervous horse who is the trusty sidekick of a brave knight. He runs away from his fears at first, but ends up proving himself in the end. I really enjoy Mr. Peet's illustrations. This book is a very fun read-aloud and it's also fun to read all by yourself. My nine-year-old saw the book out on the table and started reading because he likes it so much. It's fun for all ages. Mr. Peet is so clever and the stories just come to life on the page. I love that I can hope to overcome my fears as Clyde overcomes his. This is a great story to teach courage and determination.

Rating: G  (The picture of the ogre may scare some smaller children, but my kids aren't phased by it.)

Recommendation: Great for all ages.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


I am so excited! I have been asked to be an official book reviewer for MediaGuests.net!! (See the button underneath the ads on the left side of the page http://www.mediaguests.net/) They do online book tours of new books. Look for upcoming reviews of new books, author Q&A's, and maybe a give-away!
I review websites for mediaguests.om


Tuesday by David Wiesner

"Let your imagination take flight"   ~David Wiesner

I love this book! There is no summary because I don't want to ruin anything! If you haven't read this to your children you need to, it is so fun! Let me just say there are only about 7 words in this whole book. It is basically a word-less book, so it allows for your imagination to run wild. Kids love inserting their own words or just looking at the beautiful illustrations. It is a "Caldecott" winner. It is also fun to have them write their own version of it after you read it. There are so many places to go with this book.

Rating: G

Recommendation: Great for all ages!